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Home/Nutrition & Recipes/Articles/Planning for a family (pregnancy)/Our 7 Favourite Birth Stories From Singapore Mums

Our 7 Favourite Birth Stories From Singapore Mums

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Giving birth is different for everyone and, even if you’ve given birth before, it’s normal to feel nervous and worried about how painful labour will be. You might also be thinking that you want a natural birth and not go through induced labour, have an epidural, or have a caesarean section. But labour can be unpredictable and not everything will happen the way you want it to or unfold the way you’ve planned. But at the end of the day, giving birth to your baby after carrying them for months is an amazing experience you’ll cherish forever.

To help you prepare for labour and delivery, we’re sharing seven of our favourite birth stories from Singaporean mums. These women’s raw and powerful experiences will encourage and inspire you to embrace the birthing process.

1. Charlene Low

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Image via MissusChewy

Around 4am on 9 August 2016, Charlene Low’s water broke as she was sleeping. Then she woke up her partner to tell him and they both got prepared (with Charlene showering) before making their way to Mount Elizabeth Hospital. They arrived around 5.30am and went to the admissions counter. Charlene was then wheeled to the delivery ward where she got changed and the nurses prepped her up. She felt a bit of contractions and the intensity grew as time passed.

At 9am Dr Chia arrived to examine Charlene and said that her water didn’t fully break. The baby was in a transverse-lie position, the most dangerous position before delivery. Dr Chia tried to turn the baby around but wasn’t successful. Charlene panicked and screamed in pain. Dr Chia and a nurse pressed hard on her belly to shift the baby’s position but the umbilical cord also blocked the delivery pathway. This meant she had to undergo an emergency C-section.

At the operating theatre, Charlene almost broke down as there was a bit of shouting going on and her partner wasn’t there as he was getting something to drink. She sobbed as she rang him to let him know that she was about to give birth via an emergency caesarean. She was so stressed by the sudden turn of events and started shaking. The anaesthetist arrived and assured her she would be alright. She was then given the anaesthesia.

When Charlene regained her consciousness, her eyelids were heavy, making it hard for her to open her eyes. She was moved to another room and cried out in pain as the area she was operated upon really hurt. She was groggy and whined about the pain. Her partner was there, talking to her and holding her hands. But she felt cold and sleepy.

After the anaesthesia wore off, Charlene looked at photos that her partner took of their baby, Cayla. She was 52 cm long, weighed 3.38 kg, and was born at 40 weeks plus 5 days. She looked just like her older sister at birth. Charlene was hoping Cayla would be born on a Tuesday like her sister and her wish came true! But the day was more special for Cayla as she was born on National Day in Singapore.

2. Li Lin Tan

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Image via I Love Children

Li Lin Tan wanted a water birth, so she chose National University Hospital and booked an appointment with Professor Chong Yap Seng, a pioneer doctor in water birth deliveries. After an examination, he found the baby’s head-to-abdomen ratio was disproportionate. So he told her to eat more durian and meat to increase her baby’s weight from 1.9 kg and ensure a normal growth rate.

But the baby’s weight stayed the same 3 weeks later, so Professor Chong said she couldn’t do a water birth. She felt sad then shocked when he suggested inducing the baby the next day to prevent foetus morbidity. That was 9 days before her estimated delivery date. And she wasn’t prepared to give birth already.

Li Lin felt a whirlwind of emotions and her blood pressure (BP) level crept higher. 5 hours later it was through the roof and she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, where high BP levels can trigger fits. So now both Li Lin and her baby were considered high-risk cases.

She went to the delivery ward straight after the consultation. The only comforting news was that she was 3 cm dilated and Professor Chong could feel the baby’s head. Afterwards Li Lin entered the delivery ward feeling ready to go. She was given medication to control her BP levels and strapped to a machine that monitored her BP levels every 30 minutes.

At 2am Li Lin was moved to the delivery room but she hadn’t dilated any further. So the Medical Officer decided to break her water to speed things up. However, she didn’t want a C-section if the baby wasn’t delivered within the time limit. So the medical team administered Pitocin, which mimics Oxytocin. This would buy her another four hours to make the birth happen.

Li Lin started to feel contractions – a dull intensifying ache down her back, lower spine, and pelvis. After a while, she moved and stretched with the ache. She also felt helpless and angry as her movements were restricted by the BP level strap on her left arm and the Pitocin drip on her right hand. So her doula suggested she take a break and head to the loo where her contractions became 15 minutes apart. She barely had time to breathe or talk.

At 6.45am when Li Lin was back in the delivery room, the nurse said she was 8 cm dilated. After four pushes, she felt an odd sensation, followed by physical relief, and then heard baby Lia’s cries at 7.36am.

Li Lin couldn’t believe what just happened. At the same time, Professor Chong delivered the placenta and stitched her up. The umbilical cord was half the diameter of a normal one, which explained why lower levels of nutrients were passed on to Lia. And after 5 minutes of skin-to-skin, Lia was sent to the neonatal ward as she was only 1.9 kg.

Li Lin thought about the last 12 hours. She felt weirded out – a strange sense of disconnect at the thought of a human being having come out of her. Even after 9 months she hadn’t digested the idea of being a mother. But when her parents visited her at noon she said, “I DID IT!” loud and proud.

3. Chris

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Image via Budget Pantry

At midnight on 12 May 2016, Chris and her partner Jason checked in at Mount Alvernia’s delivery suite where she was to undergo inducement. She was strapped to a cardiotocography (CTG) machine to monitor her baby’s heartbeat and movement, as well as her contractions. She also took some selfies.

At 1am the nurse inserted the first pill into her vagina to dilate her cervix, which was still 0.5 cm at 39 weeks plus 4 days. Chris then spent the rest of the night watching TV. At 4am she was taken off the CTG machine and went to sleep. Around 6am she was put on it again.

At 7am Chris’s doctor arrived to check on her dilation and contractions. They were expecting her to be in pain but she felt okay, even if she was having strong contractions every 5 minutes. It just felt like she was having normal period cramps and she was still 0.5 cm dilated. Inserting a second pill might place more stress on the baby with their already low water level, so the doctor decided to monitor Chris for another 3-4 hours to see if she’d go into labour on her own.

At 11am her cervix remained at 0.5 cm, so she was wheeled to the operating theatre at 12pm for a C-section with epidural. The needle didn’t hurt, but being curled up and bent towards the anaesthetist so they could feel her spine was painful. After the injection, her legs didn’t feel funny or numb. And her epidural pain scale was 2 out of 10.

At 12.40pm Chris’s gynaecologist prepared her for the C-section, which took less than 2 minutes. She didn’t feel anything, just a light tug. Then Jason was called into the room when the baby was ready to be tugged out from her uterus. And 10 minutes later, Chua Bee Bee was born, 2 days before her estimated date of delivery. She looked just like her father, right down to the hairstyle. And Chris was relieved to see her beautiful little daughter healthy, safe, and well.

4. Michelle Hon

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Image via The Chill Mom

On 8 September 2016, the day went by uneventfully for Michelle Hon. She had mild but irregular contractions and she went to the toilet a lot. The contractions were 20-30 minutes apart around dinner time, then they stopped for an hour or so. Around 11pm, as she was sleeping, the contractions came every 10-15 minutes. After 4am the contractions became 8-10 minutes apart and she was in great pain. Then at 4.22am a couple of contractions were 2 minutes apart, causing her to freak out and wake up her partner. She didn’t want to deliver in a taxi!

The taxi ride to Mount Elizabeth Hospital took 10 minutes. When they arrived, Michelle screamed at the receptionist as she told them all they needed to know about the impending birth. Then a nurse came and wheeled her away to the delivery suite, where the other nurses sprang into action as she was only 35 weeks pregnant. A premature birth was considered a high-risk case.

After the nurses prepared the room, one of them put in an IV on Michelle’s hand and it didn’t hurt. While watching TV she tried to stay positive by imagining her baby would be born healthy. Then a nurse checked her at 6am and she was 4 cm dilated. They told her she’ll most likely pop at 9am so she asked for an epidural. The anaesthetist arrived 20 minutes later. But the epidural was painful – she was tensed up as she could feel the medication burning through her veins. So a nurse gave her the laughing gas. After three puffs she relaxed and was no longer in pain.

In between contractions, Michelle and her partner talked about what name to give their baby. When Dr Wee arrived they broke her waters and gave her an antibiotic jab on her butt, which hurt! It took 20 or 45 minutes for the medication to take effect. Then she and her partner sent ‘BABY IS COMING!’ texts to their family as they waited for their baby’s arrival.

By 9am, after having breakfast, Michelle was ready to push. Two doctors and a few nurses were in the room. They didn’t do practice pushes because it was her third baby and they had confidence in her. After three long hard pushes, she took a short quick breath and baby Will slid right out at 9.13am. She was happy to know he was okay after hearing his sharp cries. He stopped crying when he was laid on her chest. Then her partner cut the umbilical cord and Will was wrapped in a warm blanket. His hands opened and closed, trying to grasp onto something, so Michelle slipped her finger in his hand.

Will was then taken away for an examination necessary for premature births. And when she finally got some skin-to-skin time with him, she was so happy and grateful that he was strong enough to breathe without assistance and to latch on already.

Will Gan Jia Shan weighed 2.6 kg and measured 47 cm long. Michelle was happy to have him in her life and she told her partner she’d gladly go through the whole process a thousand times more.

5. Vera (aka Mummybean)

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Images via Life is in the Small Things

Vera had her eye on 2 March for her baby’s birthdate. And in the early hours of the morning, she felt contractions. They became more regular around 5am but she wasn’t sure if she was in labour. The contractions weren’t that painful and her water hadn’t broken. For the next hour she timed her contractions and they became approximately 5 minutes apart.

When the contractions didn’t go away, Vera woke up her partner around 6.30am. They thought about waiting till her appointment with Dr Wong at 9am but decided to go to the hospital to confirm if she was in labour. The nurse at the delivery suite knew she was just by looking at her and the way she walked.

Vera then changed into a hospital gown and the nurse did the vaginal examination, which she found very uncomfortable, and said she was 2 cm dilated. She wanted a quick birth without epidural as it slowed down the process during her first birth. But she didn’t get much sleep the previous night so she had to take the epidural. The dosage was set at level 7 and Vera was surprised she could still feel and move her legs which were a bit tingly, but the pain was much reduced.

Dr Wong arrived at 8.45am and Vera was now 3 cm dilated. Dr Wong broke her waters and a lot of warm water gushed out, surprising everyone. But now her overstretched skin felt some relief. Then Dr Wong said she’d be back around midday to check her progress.

What happened next was the best part of the entire process – Vera ate breakfast and took a nap. She also took a photo with her partner, all smiles thanks to the epidural. She even checked and updated her Twitter account. At the same time, her contractions were slowly getting stronger and she could feel more downward pressure.

Around midday, Vera was 9 cm dilated and the nurses prepared the room for the delivery. As she pushed her baby from the womb, their heart rate took a dip to about 100 during each contraction. She was told to push the baby out quickly before it got too stressed out, which stressed her out instead! But she still got down to business.

The epidural dosage was dialled down to 4 so Vera felt the contractions and the urge to push when one rolled around. After 20 minutes of pushing, the baby’s head could be seen. Then she waited an excruciating couple of minutes for the doctor to arrive as she felt she couldn’t push her baby out. She breathed through the oxygen mask to help ease her pain.

When Dr Wong arrived, Vera pushed one more time and baby Naomi was born. She was wrapped in a blanket and looked like a sweet little nun. Then the time passed by in a happy buzz and Vera felt nostalgic as she breastfed Naomi. Almost 2.5 years after the arrival of her first child, she and her partner were starting again.

6. Yann

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Image via Yannisms

Yann’s birth story shows that it’s possible to have a drug-free natural birth with your second child after having an emergency caesarean with your first child.

On 8 June 2014 after midnight, Yann couldn’t sleep as she had contractions every 20 minutes. Slowly and groggily she realised she was in labour. Around 1am the frequency increased to 10 minutes and the big contractions were very painful. She told her partner Jimmy she was in labour so they prepared for their hospital stay, then sat and waited. The contractions became 12 minutes apart, then 8 minutes apart.

From 4am to 6am Yann threw up at the peak of every big contraction. She could take the pain but not the vomiting. So she and Jimmy left for the hospital at 7am. Surprisingly, the nausea disappeared. At the hospital the nurses checked her and declared she was 7-8 cm dilated. One of them said she wouldn’t need an epidural because even at 8 cm she was still smiling.

Around 8.30am Yann was wheeled into the birthing room. Soon after, the doctor checked her contractions and said they were too spaced apart and not hitting high enough, meaning the next 2 cm may take a while. But for Yann they still really hurt.

For the next 2 hours she tried to sleep but when the big contraction hit she’d moan as the pain intensified. This went on until she felt an immense pressure down her back and butt. She sat up quickly and then another more painful wave hit. She called for the nurse who examined her and said she was 10 cm dilated but the baby’s head wasn’t low enough. Yann pushed with the next contraction to lower the baby’s head.

Ready for delivery, the nurses prepared the room, such as putting the stirrups in place. The doctor came in a few minutes later, examined Yann, then left again. When a contraction hit, the nurses told her to take a deep breath in then push as hard as she could. Now the baby’s head could be seen and the doctor was called in again, and they were surprised at how fast it was.

Yann continued to push and when the baby crowned, the pain and sensation felt odd. She also felt exhausted but kept pushing. After three more pushes, baby Zac was born. She had achieved a natural birth without drugs in less than an hour.

Upon seeing her baby, Yann smiled. Then Jimmy cut the umbilical cord as per her birth plan. Zac was laid on her chest and she thought he was perfect and beautiful. She was amazed to have another boy. Then a giant wave of contraction helped to deliver the placenta. This was also done naturally according to her wishes.

Yann’s relief was short-lived as the doctor said she had minor tearing but they stitched it up quickly. She was also bleeding inside due to Zac tearing the vaginal wall on his way out. The tear was too deep for stitches so the doctor padded it up with surgical foam. Later the wound healed on its own.

Yann’s vaginal birth was just as she wanted. Zac wasn’t big, being 2.8 kg at 40 weeks. Her waters stayed intact until the last moment, cushioning her contractions. She dilated quick enough so she didn’t go through fast and furious contractions, which stayed at 5-8 cm apart and only peaked when she was 10 cm dilated. She was also able to push efficiently with the help of the nurses.

Overall, Yann’s birth experience with Zac was intense, dramatic, and just as it was meant to be.

7. Adeline Tan

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Images via Growing with the Tans

Adeline Tan and her partner went for an IVF pregnancy and she became pregnant with twins, a boy and girl. On 4 August 2016, she was scheduled to be induced at the doctor’s clinic at 1.30pm but she was already 3 cm dilated and considered to be in labour.

Also, the scan of the babies showed they hadn’t gained weight. So the doctor said to go straight to the labour ward, surprising Adeline. She thought she could go home, have a shower, take one last baby bump selfie, then wait for labour to start. But she went to the labour ward instead where she was hooked to a monitored for 15 minutes but the babies moved around a lot, making it hard for the nurses to locate their heartbeats. She took a selfie while waiting.

Next, Adeline was wheeled to the delivery room and Dr Yvonne Lim gave her a low dose of epidural since she wasn’t feeling any contractions. She had acid reflux after a while and asked for anti-nausea meds but they didn’t really help. When Dr Loh came to check on her at 5.35pm she was only 4 cm dilated so he broke her waters. She felt the warm gush of water but no pain thanks to the epidural.

Afterwards, Adeline and her partner waited calmly in the delivery room. At 8pm she was still 4 cm dilated so Dr Loh ordered some meds on a drip to speed things up. Her contractions became more frequent and hit higher peaks. At 9.30pm she told the night-shift nurse that she could feel the contractions tightening but no pain. So the nurse upped her epidural a bit just in case.

Dr Loh returned at 10pm to check on Adeline’s dilation and said it should be pretty quick. She was sceptical, however, as it had only been about 7 hours and her first birth took 29 hours. But the baby’s head could already be seen. Things were happening faster than she had expected. All she had to do was push. She was glad she didn’t have to go through a caesarean.

Adeline pushed two times before Dr Loh gave her an episiotomy and Didi came out at 10.49pm. After a few more pushes Dr Loh used a vacuum to help Meimei get out and she was born at 10.53pm. The pushing was over within 15-20 minutes. Didi weighed 2.15 kg and Meimei weighed 2.26 kg.

Adeline wasn’t as tired as she was with her first child and could hold both babies for a while. She was glad it was a safe and smooth delivery. She felt truly blessed and happy to finally be with her miracle babies.

Preparing for labour and giving birth

After reading these birth stories, you should now have a better understanding of labour and delivery. And hopefully it has made you look forward to, instead of dreading, your own labour and giving birth. When you finally welcome your baby into the world, it’ll be one of the happiest moments in your life and no matter what happens on the day, it’ll all be worth it when you’re holding your newborn in your arms.

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  • Breast milk is the best for babies. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unnecessary introduction of bottle feeding or other food and drinks will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. After six months of age, infants should receive age-appropriate foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Consult your doctor before deciding to use infant formula or if you have difficulty breastfeeding.
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